Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was not named as one of the three finalists for the 2019-20 NBA Coach of the Year award. The distinction instead went to Mike Budenholzer of the Milwaukee Bucks, Billy Donovan of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors.
Awards were voted on by the media by July 28th and only accounted for games before the NBA’s four-month-long hiatus as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Vogel was not the Lakers’ first choice to replace Luke Walton as the team’s manager. But in his first year in LA, he has been excellent, helping lead the squad to the top seed in the Western Conference for the first time since 2010. Vogel, who has been known for his defensive principles since his tenure with the Indiana Pacers, created one of the best team defenses in the league from the start of the season, allowing the Lakers to come out of the gates hot and for the most part, they have never looked back.
While Vogel deserves recognition for his and the Lakers’ success, voters looked in different directions. Budenholzer has led the Bucks to the best record in the NBA, outpacing the Lakers by three games before the season shut down. Nurse has kept the Raptors as one of the leading title contenders despite losing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green and is known as one of the NBA’s most experimental tacticians. Donovan and the Thunder have surprised many by contending for a top-four seed in the West after trading both Paul George and Russell Westbrook in moves expected to begin a rebuild.
There’s no shame in not being named among the three best coaches in the league this season. But for my money, the man who was tasked with rebuilding the Lakers from the ground up after a massive failure of a season, front office upheaval and controversy, and a major roster turnover only to dominate the Western Conference in the regular season (going against many expert predictions) deserves to be in that group.
The Lakers still have a chance at winning two major awards with LeBron James and Anthony Davis being named as one of the three finalists for the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards, respectively.